Stonewall Riots Graphic

White Plains, NY — As we approach the end of Pride Month, we at the Board reflect on the significant legacy of the Stonewall riots, a pivotal event that unfolded on June 28, 1969, when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a vital gathering place for the LGBTQ+ community in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

55 years later, the Westchester County Board of Legislators Family Task Force, co-chaired by Legislator Nancy Barr and Kathy Halas, Executive Director of the Child Care Council of Westchester, hosted a dynamic virtual panel discussion focused on hate crimes, incidents, and discrimination. This event underscores our ongoing commitment to driving positive change by empowering residents and legislators alike with the knowledge and tools needed to address these pressing issues, today. Watch the full panel discussion here.

Board Chair Vedat Gashi (D- New Castle, Ossining, Somers, Yorktown) said, “We continue to make progress, but there is still an opportunity to revise laws and foster more understanding. Westchester remains a welcoming haven for families and individuals of all backgrounds who are here to enjoy all that the County has to offer. It’s imperative that our laws and initiatives mirror that understanding. The more we educate ourselves, the better equipped we are to take proactive steps forward.”

Panelists included Tejash Sanchala, Executive Director of the Westchester County Human Rights Commission, Catalina Blanco Buitrago, Senior Assistant DA Hate Crimes Unit of the Westchester County District Attorney Office, and Mayo Bartlett Esq., Civil Rights and Criminal Defense Attorney. In the discussion, they outlined the differences between hate crimes, hate incidents, and discrimination, and defined the terms. They also explained that while all hate crimes are hate incidents, not every hate incident rises to the level of a hate crime. Panelists reiterated if you or someone you know has experienced or witnessed anything which you believe was motivated by hate or discrimination, you should report it here. It is important to note that this is not 911, Emergency Service, or Police complaint form. Do not use this form to report incidents that present an immediate threat. If you need emergency assistance, call 911. You can submit this form using your name or anonymously.

Legislator Nancy Barr (D - Harrison, Port Chester, Rye Brook) Family Task Force Co-Chair said, “The ‘Hate Crimes, Hate Incidences and Discrimination’ presentation to the Families Task Force was timely, informative and powerful. In Westchester County, we will not tolerate hate and discrimination in any form, and the County District Attorney’s office and County Human Rights Commission stand ready to assist anyone who has been a victim of or who has witnessed a hate crime, incident, or discrimination. The most important take-away from the presentation was ‘report, report, report.”

Tejash Sanchala, Executive Director of the Westchester Human Rights Commission said, “Programs like this not only inform the community about the nuances of hate and discrimination, they also strengthen our collective efforts to recognize, report and prevent these incidents. Through its programmatic efforts, the Human Rights Commission seeks to build bridges and foster community unity.”

Earlier that week and underscoring the same sentiment of civil rights protections, the Democratic Caucus of the BOL issued a strong statement of support for the New York State Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and is thrilled that it is back on the ballot for November. Read the full statement here.